Massive Chinese Investment, Amazon’s New Planes, and a Guide to SXSW


Got $338 Billion Burning a Hole in Your Pocket?
China does. According to ZeroIPO Group (Bloomberg), investment in Chinese government-backed venture funds tripled to $338 billion last year, which is five times the sum raised by all other venture firms on the planet in 2015. It’s an amazing experiment, one that also includes 1,600 high-tech incubators for startups. One of the reasons for all this: “The government wants to attract money to riskier startups shunned by private investors who chase quicker and surer returns in late-stage bets.” This loosening is happening at such a scale that one (private) VC in China predicts inexperienced or corrupt managers will shepherd “catastrophic losses.” In the end, it’s an experiment about how innovation scales in a country that limits the open sharing of information. Are deep pockets enough? Perhaps China should study the climate in San Francisco circa 1999 to find out.

Amazon Flies Away From Its Partners
We buy everything on Amazon. We store everything on Amazon. Maybe not too long from now we’ll ship everything via Amazon. And not just via the company’s fanciful fleet of drones. Amazon has purchased 20 Boeing 767s, creating a shipping business that strengthens and extends the value chain it’s been building for more than two decades. This should worry UPS, which has benefited tremendously from Amazon’s rise. Yet what Amazon appears to be doing to UPS is nothing new. It’s what Microsoft did to independent software developers during the height of its Windows hegemony; it’s what we suspect Uber will do to its drivers once self-driving vehicles reach maturity.

Keep SouthBy Weird
It’s time for SXSW Interactive. Come to our session and use our guides for picking other events: SXSW Sessions With a NewCo Vibe and Dozens of NewCos Will Be at SXSW in Austin. Here Are 10 of Them.

Android Gives Developers More of a Head Start
They may seem like fierce competitors, but one could argue that Google’s Android doesn’t compete with Apple’s iPhone on features. Study after study shows that the iPhone owns the high end of the market and those who opt for Android devices tend to be much more price-sensitive. That’s what makes the preview version of Android just made available to developers (Medium) so intriguing. It includes new features aiming for closer parity with iOS and it’s being offered farther in advance than usual before the introduction of the next generation of Android-running hardware. Is Google looking to serve its Android developers better? Those developers have it harder than their iOS colleagues: The iPhone/iPad system is extremely closed while those who develop for Android have to make sure their apps run on devices from 400 different OEMs. And the various Android app stores seem built to confuse customers. Google still has far to go, but this is a good sign. Apple could use a real competitor up there at the top of the market.

Hey, It Wasn’t a Hoax
Remember Peeple? The Yelp for humans app that everyone freaked out about for 24 hours or so last fall and then promptly forgot? Barely, right? Turns out it came out last weekend. Current user rating: 1.5 stars. Let the online harassment begin (not a joke, alas).

Photo: Mathieu Thouvenin

Want to follow the biggest story in business? It’s the NewCo Daily newsletter.

Leave a Reply